Sunday, November 29, 2015

Our Wish Lists

Now that Black Friday has come and gone, and Cyber Monday/Cyber Week starts tomorrow, it seems timely to post our wish lists for this Christmas.  So, aside from world peace, strong coffee, and a nap, here's what we're wishing for this year.



Ruby

princess movies (Frozen, Tangled, The Little Mermaid, Beauty & the Beast, etc)
anything Elsa & Rapunzel
baby doll crib
baby dolls/any dolls
slippers
young reader's Bible
socks
crayons

Reed

Easy Bake Oven
wallet
watch
Minion hat & glove set
hoodie sweatshirt
Minions Mega Blok building sets
Chocolate Pen
Loopin' Louie game

Drew

Skylanders dudes for his video games
Skylanders SuperChargers starter pack
Lego Dimensions starter pack (in other words, really expensive things he isn't going to get)
Pokemon cards
hoodie sweatshirt, the kind that zips up over his face to make a mask
Pikachu or Mincraft pig plush doll
TMNT or Avengers Legos
Pikachu hat & glove set

We'd all like the new Inside Out movie, and I've already purchased this Colorku game for the family.

Lesley

meat thermometer (oh yeah, baby!)
wallet
Fitbit
cross-body purse
winter scarf
Project Life scrapbooking goodies

Brad

Who knows?  This dude is impossible.


Friday, November 27, 2015

Thoughts on Thanksgiving

Poor Thanksgiving.  The forgotten holiday.  Perhaps even more so now for us, with Ruby's birthday so close.

Unfortunately, Thanksgiving just doesn't give us time.  It gives the boys time off of school; however, it isn't enough time to travel the distance we need to to spend the holiday with family...which, of course, is where we'd like to be.  It's been this way, I believe, for the kids' entire lifetimes.  We may have made it back to the midwest once or twice when we lived in Illinois, but for sure not since we've moved to Michigan.  It's kind of a bummer.

But this year, for perhaps the first time, we got a bit more serious about making Thanksgiving day something special for us, even though we wouldn't be "with everyone else."  And considering it's the holiday that gets neglected anyway, I wanted to be extra intentional about what we could do to start our own Thanksgiving traditions here, where we are.

Thankfully, we haven't spent the holiday alone since our move here.  Families within our congregation have been gracious to us, inviting us to celebrate the day (and the meal) with them.  We are always so touched to be thought of and included, but I will admit it leaves a bit of longing for what we are missing with our families.

This year, it finally struck me: we can't be the only ones here who don't have family to gather with?  So, let's do Thanksgiving together, as one big giant framily (friends + family = framily)!  The wheels started churning as to who we could invite, and as I started mulling over how we could feed a potentially large group here in our little home - we were invited to join a couple from church who were attempting to do the same thing.  They are a couple who have grown children (and grandchildren), all of whom live out of state and wouldn't be coming for the holiday.  They were looking to do what we were desiring to do, which was gather with those who didn't have a Thanksgiving meal to share with anyone.  They were willing to host and cook, which solved my dilemma of space at our house.

Awesome!

In the end, there were 10 of us gathered around the table - the five of us, a young, single woman, a mother and daughter, and the couple that hosted us.  The food was delicious, the conversation flowed nicely, and the thanks that we shared was uplifting.  And it was fun!  There was a moment when I was laughing so hard, I was crying.  Best kind of laughing, ever.  (Not so funny was Reed breaking Drew's school-issued iPad, but things are never perfect, right?)

It was good to be with framily.  It was good to be thought of and prayed over and fed really good food.  It was good to be giving thanks.

Next year, we'll do the same, and hopefully we'll have the chance to host here at our house.  I'd love for this to be our new "thing" at Thanksgiving time.







Sunday, November 22, 2015

Best Day Ever

It's about to get real up in here.



She's two.  One. TWO.  And I'm completely out of my mind.  Time stands still for no one, not even a 36 year old Mama who still sees herself as a little girl every once in a while.

I continue to embrace every single second I have with this little gem.  I find myself celebrating everyday that she is here and she is mine and she's everything that we had been missing.  I applaud her growing older and making new discoveries and saying new things and causing belly-busting laughter with her spice and sass.

But let me just say this... it is bittersweet to forever say good-bye to our life with babies.  I'm currently about 3% interested in ever revisiting that time in our life (for all the wonderful it is, it is also so freaking exhausting).  So celebrating her today + recognizing the passage of time + moving onward into the joys and challenges of toddlerhood = a lot of emotions for this Mama!

We went into yesterday knowing that it was going to be a very low-key celebration (much to the boys' dismay - they wanted to do it up big for baby sister!).  We had the parade to navigate through in the morning, and spent the rest of the day anticipating Brad's return from his overnight with the youth kids from church.  He pulled into the driveway right at 4:30...but before we could get our party on, Reed needed to run a special errand.

Earlier in the week, Reed was upset because he hadn't gotten to the store to buy Ruby a present for her birthday.  I asked him what he wanted to get her, and he said a Rapunzel dress.  Ironically, I actually had one on hand (a costume purchased after Halloween) but had no plan to give it to Ruby for a while yet.  But because Reed's desire was so heartfelt and incredibly sweet, I told him that I had one he could give her.  He was very excited, and I thought things were settled.  On Thursday, he became upset again because he still hadn't purchased anything for his sister.  I reminded him about the dress, to which he said "But I want to spend my money to buy her present!"

I just cannot argue with that.

So when Brad got home, Reed and I raced to the store to find something suitable that he could buy for Ruby.  (When I asked how much he wanted to spend, he thought for a moment, and then said "Five dollars?"  Two thumbs up, kiddo.)  He found what he wanted...

and she loves it! (We have horrible lighting in our house, and shooting pictures at dusk in the winter is especially bad.  Super bummed about that, but really?  Look at that girl.)  Reed had chosen a small Minnie Mouse plush doll, and Ruby is obviously a big, big fan.


Reed also insisted that she get the dress, too.
Can't argue with a guy that wants to spoil his favorite gal.



A Rapunzel doll, a new tea set, and a few outfits (including an Elsa dress) rounded out the gifts she received.

For anyone who has followed along here for a while, you know I love to put together the details of the boys' birthday parties.  But, kind of like the handmade costumes for Halloween, I'm a little bit over it.  I look forward to styling a great little girl's birthday in a couple years, but for now, simplicity is sweet.

Two of my favorite elements from my party repertoire are the birthday banner and the birthday cake.

If you hadn't caught on to the theme yet --- we have a little girl here who's a huge Tangled fan.  She has big heart eyes for Rapunzel and Flynn Rider, and she can declare this the "Best.Day.Ever!" like no one else I know.

I chose purple (Rapunzel's dress) and yellow (Rapunzel's hair) as the colors for the day.  I used yellow icing and yellow sprinkles to sketch out the sun from the movie onto her cake... 

...and then created a royal-looking banner with the famous catch phrase.  My favorite detail was making the little ribbon tassels.

After gifts - cake!






Sweet girl, I am speechless about you.

So I'll let Reed explain...

It is so, so iksiting!




Saturday, November 21, 2015

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

And Reed led the parade!


A literal parade!

Every year, just before Thanksgiving, our town features a Santa Parade to welcome in the holiday season, which also ushers in the arrival of Santa (we have the official Santa House here, so he's welcomed back home for the holidays).  Reed joined in the festivities by walking in the parade for our school.

{Backstory:  Last fall, both boys were invited to be a part of the Everyday Heroes leadership group at school.  They were both identified as role models and leaders in their classrooms, and they then were asked to join together with the other leaders of the school to be a positive example of students who work hard and lead well.  Drew was a part of this group last year, and opted out this year (we encouraged him to give it a try again - but in the end it was his decision; and as Brad pointed out, yes, he's a great role model but he's not exactly the type to grab his baton and lead the parade (pun intended)).  Reed, on the other hand, was super excited and joined right away!  It was this group, along with the student council, that was invited to participate in the parade as representatives of our school.}

We've only lived here a couple years, but every Saturday this parade has been scheduled for, has been miserable.  And this morning fell right into line with that tradition.  It started lovely (cloudy, but dry) and then things quickly accelerated.  By the time we left the house to drop off Reed at the start of the parade, there were big, wet flakes falling from the sky. (Thus began the great debate - shoes or boots?  He'll be walking three miles so I wanted to be sure his feet were comfortable, so I thought that shoes would be the way to go.  The snow wouldn't be accumulating on the busy parade street anyway, plus I thought that his clunky boots would be too uncomfortable and perhaps hurt his feet by the time three miles were traversed.  Come to find out, boots probably should've been the way to go.  He was soaked to his waist by the time he finished the parade!  Welp.  Live and learn.)

Also, Brad's been gone since last night.  He's on an overnight with some of our youth kids, so it was just me and the littles this morning, making our way around the streets of Midland.  Parents were invited to march along with the students, and I would have had Brad been home to be with the other two, but without him here, I wasn't about to be in a three mile parade - in the snow - with all three of them in tow.  Thankfully, Reed was okay with this, and he has some great supervisors for his group, so I was okay leaving him.  My only concern was whether or not he'd make it the entire route - but, he wasn't going to have a choice!  We'd be waiting for him at the end of the parade route!


Drew, Ruby and I dropped off Reed with his group, and then proceeded to downtown where the parade concluded.  We waited for over an hour before the parade finally made it there.  We were cold!  Thankfully, the schools were near the very beginning of the parade, because by the time Reed made it to the end, we were ready to go!  


Reed made it, and had a great time.  He was wet and cold and tired, so I left it up to him how long he wanted to stay to watch the rest of the parade.  He said he wanted to stay long enough to get some candy (of course) and about five minutes later...he was ready to go!

We missed seeing Santa's big arrival....but we'll catch up with him later. :)

Now, we wait for Dad to so we can celebrate this big girl's birthday!







Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Costumes

                             

Halloween night might have been cold and wet and dark and dreary, but we certainly brightened the streets with our colorful costumes!

Today was absolutely gorgeous - why couldn't we have had this weather three nights ago?!? - so the kids slipped into their costumes for a little photo shoot in the front yard.  




Introducing Drew, as Snap Shot (from Skylanders)


So.  Skylanders.  They exist only in video game format (surprisingly enough - and thank goodness) and I have no idea what they are or what they do.  Drew became a fan of them sometime in the last year so it was really no surprise, then, when I asked what he wanted to be for Halloween, and he said Snap Shot.  They appear to make costumes for only a handful of the Skylander characters (of which there are no less than one million) and, fortunately for Drew, Snap Shot was one of them.  It's availability, however, was slim.  Apparently he's the most popular Skylander costume - on every.single.costume.buying.site.and.store in the known universe.   For days, I was online, pouring over search engines, trying to find it in Drew's size.  I made calls to a couple stores out of town, even, trying to locate one, when finally, one afternoon, on the third page of Google search results I found it!  And $30 (holy hannah) later, Snap Shot was his.  (They must not be too popular in mid-Michigan, however; Drew was the only Skylander at his school last Friday.)

To which you are probably wondering - "Um, lady.  Why the hassle?" and "Wow, that's a lot of $$$ for a Halloween costume."  Yes, yes it is.  More than I wanted to spend - oh yes.  More than I have ever spent before and more than I hope to ever spend again - you bet.   

The short answer: this kid really needed a win.





Introducing Reed, as Minion Bob


In the past, I have made a few of the kids' costumes.  I really enjoyed doing it but I'm also kind of over it.  If the boys had decided they wanted to be a ghost, I could've handled that, but a Skylander?  Um, nope.  Not even gonna.  But I love the originality and the creativeness that comes with DIY costumes ... and now I love it even more when someone else does it!

So it was with Minion Bob.  In classic Reed style, he changed his mind about a hundred times as to what he wanted to be for Halloween.  Eventually I told him he had to commit, and out of the blue he said "a minion!" (not at all one of his previous choices).  Thank goodness that's what he opted for, because second only to a DIY costume done by someone else, is being able to borrow it for free!

I had remembered from Drew's first grade class party that one of his friends was a minion that year (why, oh why, does this sort of stupid stuff take up space in my already very limited brain capacity?!?) so I sent a message to his mom asking if they happened to still have the costume, and if so, if Reed could borrow it.  Sure enough, and the costume was in our possession later that night.   

Couldn't have been easier!  It made up for the time and expense that went into Drew's costume, I guess. ;)

And Reed loved it.  He totally was a minion in another life.





So when I said I was kind of over handmaking costumes - I guess there is one teeny, tiny exception.


Introducing Ruby, as the brightest little rainbow that ever was



As you may recall (but you probably don't and shouldn't because if you do then your brain is full of useless and unimportant information) when I wrote about Ruby's owl costume last year that I had chosen both her owl for her first Halloween and this rainbow for her second Halloween on the night she was born.  (I was alone in the hospital with her and spent a lot of time on Pinterest.) :)  I absolutely adored this pin and was confident that little Ruby would make a fabulous rainbow by the time she was almost two.

Was I right, or was I right?


I made my own pattern, and then went to work cutting and sewing.  It was really fun to put together (who doesn't love working with rainbows???) and didn't take too much time. 

And then...

It turned out to be an alright thing that she didn't end up going trick-or-treating with us.  Because she refused to put the darn thing on.  She finally donned the thing yesterday when Brad bribed her with his phone.  Only for Dad.  Only for the phone. 

I see how things are gonna be around here.


Here's hoping your Halloween was as bright and cheery as ours was!



Sunday, November 1, 2015

Gearing Up for Halloween

Each Halloween, there are three things that I can count on to be included in our festivities (four, if I include trick-or-treating, but that's a given for most people).

1) The annual Fall Family Night at church.


The last Wednesday before Halloween is traditionally a family night at our church (in place of our regular classes/groups that meet in the evening).  After we share a meal together (delicious), the party starts.  In the past, Brad has put together some kind of spin on a popular game show and has geared it towards family participation.  Always awesome.  Always fun.  This year, he outsourced the entertainment to Roscoe the Clown.





He was very entertaining, especially in the "this is so dumb!" department.
Lots of balloon fun for the kids, with a bit of magic, as well as some jokes and a hearty, hearty laugh.

When Roscoe completed his show, there were a few activities in our youth area for the kids to earn some prizes, and then to the church gym for the main event - the carving of the pumpkins!  There are always enough pumpkins for each kid to carve his own.  We came armed and ready with our patterns and tools, but quickly discovered our carvings were going to take considerably longer than the time we had to complete them Wednesday night at church.  So we cleaned up the mess we made when we took out the pumpkin guts, and decided to finish our work on another night at home.

Which brings me to item #2 on our countdown to Halloween festivities...

2) Carving pumpkins.

This was so much fun this year, most likely because (aside from cleaning out the guts, which everyone reserves special, just for me, to do) the boys are able and wanting to do it themselves.  Yay for independence!  And, we had a few extra hands as Grandma and Grandpa were visiting.

We knocked these babies out on Friday night, just in time to put them out on the front step for Saturday.









We couldn't pick easy patterns....nooooo.  ;)  Drew did do much of Yoda all by himself, with aid from Grandma on a few of the tricker portions.  And while I did do much of R2D2 because the cuts were so small and precise, Reed got his hands in there as much as he could to do the larger pieces.  And, as he was waiting on that, he and Ruby went to town on their own cooperative design, there on the right.  Classic Halloween, at it's finest.

Which then leaves #3.

3)  Classroom parties.

These are definitely a highlight for the boys (ranked right behind trick or treating) but they're also pretty fun for me, too.  Just like last year, though, I have to jump back and forth between the boys' classrooms.  And this year they're on opposite sides of the school, so it leaves me really high-tailing it all over the place!  Nevertheless, I'm always happy to be there (and so far, they still like for me to be there, too).

Prior to the parties starting, the entire school has a costume parade, where they show off their costumes to everyone in the school.  This is the first time in our four years that the weather has cooperated enough for the kids to march around the school, instead of up and down the crowded hallways.  So nice!

Keep your eyes peeled for Minion Reed and Skylander Drew!














As for trick-or-treating...it was miserable.  It rained the entire time we were out, and with the rain coming down and the puddles to track through, the boys were wet up to their waists by the time we got back home.  We were able to keep Ruby at home with Grandma and Grandpa (which I was equal parts thankful for but also bummed that it was too gross outside for her to join us) and the rest of us hit up the neighborhood with our friends from up the street.  We didn't spend as much time out as we would've had the weather cooperated...but let's just say the neighborhood folks compensated for it with their generosity. 

Considering the weather wasn't exactly photo-friendly yesterday, I'll take the kids outside this week (there are a couple gorgeous days in the forecast!) and take some costume pictures.  Stay tuned!